Two dynamic forces in the Charlotte restaurant scene have joined forces.
Frank Scibelli — who created Mama Ricotta’s, Yafo Kitchen, Midwood Smokehouse, Cantina 1511, Paco’s Tacos & Tequila and last year sold Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar for $21 million — recently bought in to Clark Barlowe’s award-winning Heirloom Restaurant.
Barlowe, who worked at Mama Ricotta’s during his freshman and sophomore years at Johnson & Wales University has long respected Scibelli’s restaurant record and sought his advice prior to opening Heirloom. “It’s a great fit on all fronts,” Barlowe said of the new partnership.
And the respect is mutual. “I’m a big believer in Clarke Barlowe and I think he’s got the chance to be a James Beard Award Winner,” said Scibelli.
Heirloom, a fine dining restaurant featuring locally sourced ingredients and a daily rotating 12-course tasting menu, stands in contrast to Scibelli’s more casual restaurant concepts.
Barlowe sources ingredients from more than 70 area farmers and producers, forages the countryside for uniquely wild ingredients and works year-round to preserve ingredients for use in off seasons (like blueberries in December and tomatoes in February).
Most recently Scibelli opened Yafo Kitchen, a fast-casual counter-service Mediterranean restaurant that looks readily franchisable. (In case you missed it, we at the Agenda can’t stop raving about it.)
That ability to appeal to the masses, says Barlowe, is part of the benefit of the partnership. “I’ve always admired what Frank is able to do with restaurants,” he said. “He makes it very approachable to a large demographic. I think that’s the mark we’re missing. People have this preconceived notion of what we are.”
That will mean some changes ahead for Heirloom but nothing too drastic.
Barlowe says they’ll have a new menu rolling out on November 18. The daily tasting menu will remain but will drop from 12 courses to 6 and they’ll be adding a new a la carte menu that will rotate every two months or so.
That new menu will include comfort food additions like a burger, country-fried steak and fried chicken. “It’s the food I grew up eating,” said Barlowe, “the food I’m comfortable with.”
Barlowe says it’s about blending his restaurant with Scibelli’s style and vision, not to move in one direction or the other.
“Frank does a lot of things exceptionally well,” said Barlowe. “The way we source our ingredients and our commitment to local is something Frank wanted as part of his brand. We’ll make it approachable to the community but still push the Charlotte food scene.”
As for that James Beard Award, Barlowe says “We have grand goals.”
Barlowe says Scibelli’s faith in him doesn’t add any more pressure than he already puts on himself but that his buy in is “extremely validating.”
Heirloom is located at 8470 Bellhaven Boulevard and is open Tuesday through Saturday.
Header photo via Facebook